A gorgeous find, in the Elgin valley, which took us into a straight into an 1800’s fiction novel with orchards and oaks as great as your imagination.
A gorgeous find, in the Elgin valley, which took us into a straight into an 1800’s fiction novel with orchards and oaks as great as your imagination.
My fiancé and I took a spontaneous weekend getaway to Hermanus recently and with whale season coming up, perhaps you need to do the same 🙂
Here’s the easiest way to have the best weekend, do what we did!
We easily booked into a lovely self catering cottage at Anchor’s Rest and used this as our base for exploration.
An adventure wouldn’t be an adventure if we didn’t start the day early and go for a long walk. There is a lovely cliff path starting in Walker Bay and is an easy and scenic 5km stroll/jog (with a slight detour along the road) to Voelklip, where you can reward yourself with breakfast and coffee.
Walker Bay Adventures offers daily sea kayaking trips from Walker Bay that I’d highly recommend. They’re easy kayaks and it is just another world once you get out there. Even if it’s not whale season, you’ll get to splash around with the penguins and seals and soak in your Vitamin Sea.
Treat yourself to a good home cooked farm-style breakfast at Die Plaaskombuis!
A little way out of Hermanus is a very special gem: Mosaic Private Sanctuary.
It’s well worth the visit, if only for this cheese platter from heaven (okay, it’s mostly cheeses from the local cheese farm, but that’s kind of the same thing!)
And once you’re done eating all the cheese, head just a little further out of Hermanus into Gansbaai. Drive straight down to the beach and have coffee and a sarmie with a view to die for at Coffee on the Rocks. Soak in the view, the sun and the whales in season!
You’re welcome 🙂
Ah, the quintessential “road trip”…
For me, road trips whilst growing up were not fun. We lived in Johannesburg and road tripped to family just outside of East London EVERY SINGLE school holiday. That’s roughly a 10 hour trip of being squashed between two siblings (with a dad who refused to stop unless it is a matter of life or death). It was painful.
It’s taken me about 20 years to come around to the idea that a road trip can be fun. Here’s what you need to ensure:
Here’s an account of the most wonderful adventure that changed my mind about road trips for good. I’ve laid out our route stop-by-stop, shown you some highlights and left some meaningful contacts here for you if you’re keen on doing the same sort of thing.
The first stop had to be Knysna, or rather, just outside Knysna along the “Rheenendal Ramble“.
I found an interesting looking place online called Peace of Eden, which offers tented accommodation in the forest. Tents, you ask?
It’s not camping, you don’t have to bring your own tent, but you sleep in an already set up tented “room” in the middle of the forest. Yes, that will do!
The balcony view was not bad at all…
The idea of shared outside showers and loos might put some people off, but it was not an issue at all and the sounds of the forest as you go to sleep is worth more than any en-suite, that’s for sure!
Comfort Level: Rustic
Just up the road from Peace of Eden is a glorious hidden gem. An unassuming sign for “pub food” took us past Portland Manor and we discovered the most beautiful old English-style manor house, with an 1800’s stone pub. We had just been transported back into another time in gloomy Britain and found ourselves ordering gin and tonics, asking if we could “use the croquet set please, old chap”. The property also boasts a dam for boating, skiing and cruising. Definitely worth a stay next time. Lucky find!
Vibe: English Country Manor
Our short visit to Jeffrey’s Bay gave us some insight into the beloved seaside surf haven. High season showed us the full extent of it’s offering and it’s a conglomerate of party, beach, surf, eat, chill and shop (even though the Billabong Factory no longer produces out of Jeffrey’s Bay, the factory shop and neighbouring factory shops do hold fantastic deals).
A more unique experience was a brief stay at Marina Martinique. This marina estate of waterways, bridges and luxury homes is a stone’s throw away from the festive season madness in J’Bay town.
Hire a house and stay for a few days – a morning, midday and evening dip in the marina is not overrated!
Vibe: Living on a freaking marina! Bring us a G&T please, darling.
Comfort: Luxury (dependent on the house/apartment you rent)
CINTSA, WILD COAST
On your way to the Wild Coast Jikeleza Route into Cintsa, stop off at the Friesland Milk Bar in East London for their legendary milkshakes. The Friesland Milk Bar has been there for as long as anyone can remember and churns out delicious milkshakes in these cute-as-a-baby-cow’s-nose milk bottles <3
You know you’re at the Wild Coast when… you’re dodging cows on the way to the beach. There is just something about this coast that can’t be found anywhere else in the country. It’s a coastline less travelled (and in going further up into the Transkei, it’s literally because it’s too difficult to travel on these roads) but well worth a visit.
This picture was taken on the way to Cefani river mouth, a more secluded beach with a beautiful river mouth for swimming, paddling, dunking the kids etc. (You can find it shortly after you turn of Schafli Road, as if you’re going into Cintsa East.)
The beaches along this coastline are just gorgeous, but you have to get there early in the morning before the wind picks up! This is Cintsa East Main beach, with gentle waves and plenty of rock pools to explore.
A must when you visit this side of the world is a horse ride on the beach with Cintsa Horses. They do basic beach rides for beginners or riders who know what they’re doing. It’s a few hours of beautiful scenery through the trees, dunes, rock pools and beach. What’s special about this operation is that it funds the New Hampshire Equine Rehabilitation Centre, who takes on and looks after horses in desperate need of care and homes. Horses working for their friends – it’s fantastic!
Cintsa has recently jumped onto the “Craft Beer Bandwagon” and opened up the first microbrewery in the area – Emerald Vale Brewery. I’m not much of a beer drinker, but I did enjoy a glass or two. Be sure to book ahead in peak season – it gets completely booked up.
You’ll find this coastline perfect for fishing from the rocks and this particular bay below is one of the best surf spots in the area, just before you get to Cintsa along the Jikeleza route (Queensbury Point).
Tea in the Trees is a good spot for a relaxing breakfast and yes, that is an actual teapot in the tree. Cute.
Once a year, towards the end of December, the Chintsa Runners host a trail run through some of the neighbouring farms in Chintsa. This one was organised as 5km and 13 km routes, starting and ending at Tea in The Trees, with scenery to die for (side note: I did feel like dying, myself). All proceeds go to the Chintsa Runners from the local township to fund their races etc. A worthy cause, I reckon.
This was definitely one of my highlights. We decided to take the R62 from Jeffrey’s Bay back to Cape Town, for a change of scenery and an escape from the mad rush on the N2. What a fabulous idea. There are some really interesting places along this route and I’m sorry that we didn’t spend more time exploring it.
The Belfry Kitchen, Twee Riviere
This hidden gem is REALLY hidden. There are no signs from the main road – word of mouth is mainly what brings customers to The Belfry Kitchen in Twee Riviere. It’s a cafe and bakery in the town’s old post office, which still operates as a post office today (over the deli counter). They accept bartering as a form of payment and relies solely on its own vegetable gardens, poultry run, orchards, livestock, purpose-run dairy operations and so forth, to produce the ingredients for its menu items and groceries range. It’s peculiarity is intriguing – you must stop past there and at least have their R29 cheese platter (that is not a typo – everything is more than half the price of general retail prices).
In a 1984 Reader’s Digest on the bookshelf:
It hit well over 43’C en route through Oudtshoorn. There is no escaping that heat, except in the aircon of your car.
Ronnie’s Sex Shop
Just outside of Barrydale, you’ll pass Ronnie’s Sex Shop. Rumour has it that Ronnie painted the name “Ronnie’s Shop” on this cottage next to the R62, planning to open a farm stall. His friends played a prank on him and added “Sex”. It was a laugh and ended up turning the building into a tourist stop and bar.
This fool parked in front of the legendary sign – what kind of monster is this?!
Barrydale is gorgeous. From the East Coast side of the R62, you enter in through the Tradouw valley, which is quite the scene. On the other end, you exit into the semi-arid Klein Karoo. It’s incredibly interesting!
In between, you find quirky places like Diesel & Creme. You can spend hours there just looking through all the novelties and decor, before even ordering your coffee and food. It feels like another world – perhaps it is?
Karoo Saloon sits on the Klein Karoo side of Barrydale and is a stop-over setup, saloon-style. The heat of the day catches up and settles quietly into the vast sunset here.
Vibe: Beer, darts and sitting
Comfort: Basic of basics. Bring mozzie spray!
Why end the trip already? Head a little bit further, past Citrusdal to Clanwilliam Dam, if you’re into water sports and have access to a boat. It’s necessary.
Vibe: Sun and Ski
Comfort: Ranges, depending on what kind of house you rent. Be sure to check for working aircon!
Go, baby, go go! I’m bringing road trips back into fashion. Amen.
Driving through the strange, seemingly lifeless, landscape of the West Coast National Park, you don’t expect to be greeted by “Little Croatia” at every turn where you find a paradise beach. It’s unreal.
Just under R50 gets you in and it’s free if you have a Wild Card. You don’t need to spend a small fortune getting to the Mediterranean for the summer, just head up the West Coast and play on the beaches of South African paradise.
Some images from my recent West Coast road trip adventure. Paternoster’s ‘Santorini in Africa’ style town stole a piece of my heart.
It’s amazing how a spontaneous weekend getaway can rejuvenate the soul, especially when you end up in a paradise you did not expect. And then another one, and then another one. The expanse of beauty and uniqueness found on the West Coast of South Africa is enough to impress anyone – well travelled or not.
This past weekend was a West Coast road trip experience. We based ourselves for this adventure in Hopefield, an unassuming small town inland on the West Coast. It’s conveniently located about 30 minutes from Langebaan, Paternoster, Jacobsbaai etc. and is windlessly welcoming. Driving through the town, you think there is nothing going on there, but stay a while and see what magic pops out…
This is The Merry Widow Country Retreat , our B&B in Hopefield. As I write “B&B” I feel like I’m lying to you. Yes, we had a (fantastic) bed and we had (fantastic) breakfast, but we were taken in as more than guests. We left feeling like we were leaving friends and family behind. Ulrich and the Hopefield community are really something special and it was an honour to have been a part of it. It’s not a stuffy old town with grumpy old men, it’s an up and coming destination for those looking to “Slow Up” – slow down the pace and up-size the living.
Sitting on the deck at sunset, or around the braai at night, or around the coffee bar in the morning – it all just feels right.
On Saturday mornings, The Merry Widow is host to the community market “The Mill Country Fair“, which serves breakfasts and coffees and sells produce/goods from the locals only. It’s fantastic.
“Just because we live in a small town, doesn’t mean we don’t like good food and nice things.”
Just next door to The Merry Widow is Simply Bee, the pretty little home of natural beeswax products. Their stuff is divine and if you can’t carry it all out with you, you can order online for R55 delivery charge to your door. Love.
Hopefield, you have my attention. Thank you for providing us with such a wonderful home for the weekend and we’re watching you!
More posts to come of the rest of our West Coast Weekend Adventure…
The thing about going on an epic adventure holiday is that when you get back, it takes a little while to settle into things and to blog about it 😉 I took somewhat of a digital detox over my two week stint in Indonesia and only uploaded a few photos to Instagram and Facebook from time to time when I felt the need and had some decent wifi.
It is now time to tell you all about it and I hope that this guides you if you’ve been thinking about an adventurous Indonesian holiday (which you should be doing).
The first spot I’d like to tell you about is Medewi – a little surfing spot along the coast of Bali. It’s about a 3/3,5 hour drive from the airport in Denpasar and it’s easy to organise a taxi for this. Chat to your hotel/guest house about it and they’re more than likely able to organise something quickly, easily and relatively cheaply for you. If you’re backpacking and winging it with accommodation, send me a mail and I’ll send put you in contact directly with the guy that drove us all around Bali whenever we needed to – he was great!
It is a slow and basic surfer’s “village” with one main surf spot called “The Point”, with “epic waves” as I’m told by those who are ‘real’ surfers (I am not one of them). This spot is also the best place to get the best cheap as chips Bali coffee and watch the surfers do their thing.
I did, however, learn to surf there in some of the smaller and less scary whitewash a little further down the bay, with the biggest surfboard you’ve ever seen in your life. I also learnt to trek what felt like a million kilometres with a surfboard (more like a boat) on my head. These are real skills, yo.
There are some great spots to chill and eat and watch the day go by through the waves. Bamboo Terrace is great for this (especially because the service is s-l-o-w) on their beanbags with surf movies on a big screen in the evenings.
Low Tide Yoga has made Medewi their home and offer Surf/Yoga retreats. Their yoga pondok is right on the beach and you can meditate with the sound of the waves in front of you. Sigh. If you’re not part of the retreat you can arrange drop-in classes.
If you’re keen for something a little different (and a good giggle), you can take a buffalo cart from The Point to Pekutatan for sundowners at the beautiful Puri Dajuma Resort. I always advise against animal-related tourist activities, especially in South-East Asia and Indonesia, but this is a local guy with his own buffalos that he keeps in his garden and they are treated very kindly, not as a commodity for tourism. You can organise this through Low Tide Yoga.
This was a great way to start an adventure and slowed me down to a perfect holiday pace. The people are friendly and inviting and you won’t be bombarded with tourist “hassle”. I’d highly recommend Medewi Beach Inn for your accommodation – it is basic and friendly (some rooms even have hot water!).
Drop me any comments if you want any more info or would like to ask me any more detail about the place and the trip.
Welcome to Hotel Kerobokan.
Written by Kathryn Bonella, the co-author of Schapelle Corby’s autobiography (Schapelle Corby was convicted of smuggling 4.2kg of marijuana into Bali in her boogie board bag in 2004, which she insists was planted), this book paints a very vivid, mad, sickening picture of real life behind one of Bali’s most notorious prisons.
I anticipated a story of filth, violence and dark stories attached to mad prisoners trying to pass the boredom of their days in jail, but nothing could actually prepare me for this book.
In a country where drug-related crimes are taken seriously enough to warrant the death penalty, I was beyond shocked at the drug-fuelled inside of Hotel K. Those that ‘checked in’ clean were soon walking around in a smack induced haze, due to the availability and necessity of drugs in this jail. The corruption, violence, and twisted existence that is painted of the inside from the true stories of its’ inmates is almost unreal. Money rules above all else, and even with it you can be screwed over time and time again. It’s an unjust and cruel existence. There is no order. Everyone is in the same hell, from rapists to junkies to holiday makers having been set up for a drug bust. It is unnerving to say the least.
As disturbing as it is, I couldn’t put it down. I had to read each and every story and continue to be shocked by the goings on inside Hotel K. It was incredibly well written and so honest, I felt like I was there (except I could escape by putting the book down for a break!).
I’m glad it’s over. And I’m glad I read it. I am so grateful for my life and freedom and also COMPLETELY TERRIFIED for my upcoming holiday to Bali. I reckon I’m going to pack only a few bikinis in my hand luggage and sleep on it, just in case. Parents, make your teenagers read this book – they will never touch a drug or commit a crime in their lives. Guaranteed!
10/10, what an excellent book. I’m so happy to put it away and go outside to smell the lavender bushes and spend an hour in the bath and breathe in all the fresh air in the world, while hugging all my friends and family at once. Sheesh.
This was hands down one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Given some time to reflect in the stillness of one of the most spectacular sunrises, listening to the birds sing in the bushes around me, I can only marvel at my life decisions so far that have taken me to this specific moment. If there ever was an inspirational moment in life, this is it.
Botlierskop Private Game Reserve has recently launched a specialised 5 star luxury equestrian package for experienced riders and you can imagine how ecstatic I was to discover this. There are not many places which offer horse riding experiences that are more than a mindless walk/trot over the same trail that the poor pony has been trundling along for years. The quality of horses at Botlierskop is like no other – strong, sturdy, vibrant Boerperds with minds of their own – these are no trail “mules”.
I’m still wondering if this was all real or just a dream. Words cannot explain…
*Note: It really has been created for experienced riders only. The terrain is intense and the horses are not dumb trail ponies. They do also offer beginner/novice trail rides, though.
(Taken at Pringle Bay)